Tuesday, December 18, 2012
A Million Little Pieces
The first time I ran across a pomegranate in the "wild," (y'know, the grocery store...) I knew that I liked the flavor. And it looked exotic, and it was different, and it was something to do.
So I bought it and I took it home, and when a friend came over, we tried to crack into it. Keep in mind I knew nothing about the fruit. It was completely alien to me. I didn't really even know which parts were edible. I found out that it was tough to get into. So I got out my big knife, and I sliced it in quarters the way you'd do with an apple or an orange or really, most any other kinda-spherical fruit.
As soon as it was sliced open, rivers of almost bloodlike red poured out. It immediately stained the counter, our hands, and the wooden cutting board, and the stains seemed rather indelible. We laughed and picked at it and we tried the skeletal, tough whitish part, in case it was edible. It wasn't. We gnawed on it all of 30 seconds before we discovered this. It was bitter and had no redeemable use. So we tried to tear it apart. This just resulted in more bleeding, more staining and more laughing.
Eventually, we decided even though the wifi was spotty up in White Rock, googling might do us some good. It turns out if you soak the pomegranate when it's cut like that, it's easy to separate the little alien seeds from their little alien pods. It turns out also that the little alien seeds that contain the ruby red juice are where all the good stuff is. Seemed like a lot of work for a bunch of tiny seeds.
Still, we soaked it. We brushed off the arils into the water- they sink while the pith floats, making it relatively easy to separate what you want from what you don't. A few minutes later, hands still slightly pink, and counters still stained, we got the prize- tiny little gems bursting with tangy juice.
I was separating one of these suckers tonight, and it made me think. I always think in metaphors, and there's a lot to think about this week. There's a lot of pain and a lot of confusion and a lot of....stuff.
I guess I was thinking about the things you do and why you do them. Usually it's worth it to you in some way. Then I was thinking about people, and the people that are worth it to you- the relationships. I think it starts out a lot like this situation did. You know nothing. You know there's something there that's attractive, and you want to get at it, but you don't even know how. Maybe you pass it up or maybe you take it home and stare at it awhile. Then you get inside of it. The friendship forms and it stains, hopefully indelibly. This is the first part where you can tuck and run, because this is the first time it's ever risky. Sitting on your counter, you can stare at it or let it go bad. Open on the counter it's gonna start to affect your life.
But you're not done yet. It's a part of you, but you haven't figured out how it works yet. If you put in that work, you find 530 (if the Greeks were right) perfect little reasons it was worth all that work. It's sweet and it's tart and it's good for you. And you're probably still going to keep getting stained, but it's worth it.
For me that's how it works. And if I find those 530 reasons, I'll take the stains and I'll take the soak and I'll take the work. Because it's worth it.
I don't find pomegranates often. They're not always in season. They're expensive. They're rare enough to be a special treat for me. And I guess...that's how I see the most important people in my life. Or it is tonight.
Sometimes you have to sort through and figure out why. Why are you gonna let yourself get hurt? Why are you gonna keep trying? Why risk it? Why run into pith and gnaw on bitterness and ruin some of your own things?
And I guess you have to figure out how far you'll go for those 530 reasons, and if the sweetness inside of the thing is worth enough to you to risk it.